How to safely manage your passwords

Updated November 2016:

When helping clients login to their computer or websites, I often see them pull out a scratch pad or sticky notes with various passwords scribbled on the page. There’s a better and more secure method to record your login information.

For years I’ve recommended using your own variant of a password system to help you memorize the unique passwords that you use for every device and web site. I recommend starting with your frequently used websites, then updating the passwords for the less-important web sites that you’ve used over the years.

I also use a password manager to keep my passwords and often-forgotten information secure and synchronized between devices. While there are many password managers to choose from, the one I use is LastPass. I keep LastPass guarded with a super-secure unique 10-character password, which protects the other passwords I use on various websites and computers. You can read a review of LastPass here.

If a website offers it, I recommend setting up 2-step authentication that will call, text or send a special code to your smart phone that will only allow you to access your online account. Read more about 2-factor authentication here.

If you need help setting up any of the methods mentioned above, we can help.

Other tips:

– Never store passwords in a file named “passwords”, nor include the name “password” in the content of a file – both are easily searchable on a computer.
– For all logins include the following 5 pieces of information:

  1. Login name (e.g. AAA)
  2. Website address (e.g. www.aaa.com)
  3. Username/email address (e.g. myemail@myemail.com)
  4. Password – labeled “pw” (e.g. AbcAaa123)
  5. Date (e.g. Changed 2/14/2014)

– Consider getting a password log book such as this #1 Best Seller at Amazon. I suggest not writing complete passwords in the book, but hints to the password. Also you should store the book in a non-obvious location, remove the cover sleeve that says “passwords”, and make sure your spouse and next of kin know the location of the book.